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In Loving Memory of Gabe Gelbart

Gabriel Albert Gelbart, 53, of Topanga, died suddenly after an apparent heart attack the afternoon of Sunday, June 15, following a bike ride in the Canyon with his new husband, Mitch Metzner. Gabe, a very gentle soul, had been a resident of Topanga for a year, just having been married at his home, Anam Cara, in early May.

Gabe was beloved by many as the co-founder of Anam Cara, the senior architect at Warwick Group of Los Angeles, an accomplished performance artist, and previously as a Disney Imagineer who was instrumental in creating Disney Seas in Tokyo, Japan. He attended Boston Architectural Center and was a graduate of UCSD and UCLA, and has been a resident of Los Angeles County since 1986. Gabe was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, immigrated to Brooklyn, NY, with his family at the age of two, and attended high school in San Diego, CA.

In his twenties, Gabe lived in a Kibbutz in Jerusalem, later becoming an avid traveler, living in Japan for two years while working for Disney, and enjoying trips to eastern Europe, Greece and Spain with friends and family. He was also fluent in Spanish and Hebrew.

Not only was Gabe talented in creating a Zen-like beauty in architecture and landscapes, he was a lover of folk music and enjoyed sculpting, painting, writing and performing. His love of gardening and his amazingly unique, delicious culinary creations were evident in his beautiful homes and generous hospitality.

Gabe co-conceived the concept and vision of Anam Cara, an end-of-life home where those with life-limiting illness can experience the healing beauty of nature. He was an avid student of holistic medicine, plant-based nutrition, and spirituality.

Gabe selflessly gave of his time and talents in serving others. He served as an assistant trainer for The Twilight Brigade, a hospice and veteran service organization, and lead trainer for the Anam Cara hospice program. He donated his time and creative talents in one-man autobiographical performance pieces for theatre and community organizations such as Highways Performance Space, the California Men’s Gathering, and ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives.

He donated his design skills to the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center and the Dome Village homeless shelter; organized Disney coworkers to host holiday parties for the homeless; spent many hours helping at The Midnight Mission homeless service center in downtown Los Angeles, and played guitar and sang for hospice patients weekly.

Gabe is survived by his husband, Mitch Metzner of Topanga; his brother and sister-in-law, Carl and Becky Gelbart, and his nieces, Charlie and Nicole, of Laguna Niguel. He was preceded in death by his parents, Henry and Eva Gelbart, and former partner, Paul Rhoadzhagen.

The funeral celebrating Gabe’s life was held on Saturday, June 21, at his home in Topanga. In lieu of flowers, donations are requested to help make Gabe’s vision of Anam Cara a reality.

We invite you to leave a message on Gabe’s online memorial.

  1. Geri Kenyon
    Geri Kenyon06-20-2014

    Sadly I did not have the opportunity to get to know Gab personally, but I feel I do know him as I process the expressions of care, appreciation and love being made by those who did have that opportunity. I’m so sorry we have lost him now, and so sorry I didn’t have a chance to experience those special things he meant to so many who did have the opportunity to know him.

  2. Mark Beltran
    Mark Beltran06-20-2014

    I would like to extend my deepest condolences to Mitch and his family as well as all of Gabe’s family. God works in mysterious ways and losing such a wonderful man to heaven makes no sense, except for the fact that it is his will and we all must look at the beauty in Gabe’s life and the wonderful gift of love he and Mitch established. Amen.

  3. Barry Wendell
    Barry Wendell09-22-2014

    I was stunned to hear of Gabe’s death. He and I met in 1986, and our lives seemed to parallel each other. I wrote a blogpost about him at http://www.yearthreemorgantown/gabegelbart.

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